Monday, March 9, 2020

Review: Lois Lane #9

Lois Lane #9 came out last week, marking the 75% mark for this title.

This ninth issue has many of the same problems that I have had with this book since about the third issue. It is an excellent Question book, with Renee again having the best scenes and lines. There is a tiny little bit of plot progression but not a lot. And there is a political agenda to the story but one that seems to be forced into the story instead of being the foundation of the plot or even crucial to it. Greg Rucka is certainly rolling things out slowly if at all. A reminder, the first plot we heard about ... the death of a Russian reporter similar to Lois ... hasn't been touched upon in a while.

That makes it sound like I don't like the book. And that isn't necessarily true. I do. Just not as much as I hoped I would. I really wanted a Lois-driven book. While I like Renee being a sort of operative for our titular character, it feels more like a team up book than a solo title with a supporting character.

Mike Perkins continues to give us excellent visuals here. As I have said before, Perkins would be my first choice on a Montoya Question book. Perkins gives us superb and moody night-time scenes. And this time his expressive work is right on the money. And this is a nice cover showing how the hundreds imprisoned in detention centers are essentially dehumanized and faceless.

On to the book.

We start with the Question heading to Gotham and firing up the Bat Signal

Lois is giving Batman a homework assignment. She needs to know everything about the Kiss of Death. And who better to dig up information quickly than the Dark Knight.

I suppose that this shows the respect that Lois holds in the DCU. Batman is going to stop doing what he is doing for an hour to give Lois what she wants. And these scenes, drenched in shadow are beautiful.

I also find it interesting that Renee, who was so fangirl flummoxed with Superman, is almost flippant with Batman.

Meanwhile, our mystery woman who escaped the asylum in France continues to elude her captors.

In a nice turn, we see that the nun who visited her in the asylum and was apparently overpowered in, in fact, working with Jessica. This was all a ploy.

I still don't know this character but feel that I should. With her memories returning I hope Rucka gives us a little exposition, a little background.

Batman comes through, bringing Renee a folder with all the information about Kiss of Death.

One thing that comes out is that the assassin may have some occult powers, explaining the skull-appearance but also upping the threat level. Superman doesn't do well with magic.

As I said above, Renee really has the best scenes in the book, here almost getting Batman to crack a joke or maybe even slightly grin. And I never put together the idea that The Question and Kiss of Death are both faceless in their own way.

Heck, she even gets to do a "Princess Bride" joke with Batman.

Funny how this was the scene I liked best, the Question scene in the Lois book.

Renee heads back and shares the folder with Lois.

But Lane was on a different mission. She calls in a favor with a politician to find out which detention center her ex-maid and illegal immigrant Alejandra is being held.

Lois wonders why Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Martian Manhunter, all immigrants, aren't hounded about their citizenship. Renee says that as heroes they are given a pass. And Lois says that's not why they get a pass.

So what is Lois trying to say here?

She can't be saying they get a pass because they are male. Because ...well ... Diana.
Is she saying the get a pass because they are white ... because J'onn isn't.
Because they speak English? Because Alejandra does too.

Also, I am sure that somewhere along the way, the US Government granted these heroes legal citizenship. Yes, they are immigrants.

I don't know what message Rucka was going for here but without me being able to easily intuit it, it comes off as muddled and maybe a bit preachy.

Lois has gone and visited Alejandra in the center.

Alejandra has been separated from her children. She doesn't know where her kids are. She isn't allowed any contact. Even Lois' hugs of comfort aren't allowed.

Lois realizes that it was her connection to Alejandra which led to the maid's outing to the authorities. She feels guilty.

Thankfully, Renee is there to give some perspective. Lois isn't responsible for the evil Kiss of Death does.

So ... again ... a great Renee moment.

After a quick trip to the salon, Jessica Midnight suddenly looks more like the Black Bishop of Checkmate that she was.

For those of us who don't know her, the line about her playing chess is at least a hint of her Checkmate ties.

But I'll be honest, I had to google the character to get her history. I am hoping we get more background moving forward.

And just as Kiss of Death has some tie to the occult, so to does it seems that Midnight does.

Midnight and Sister Clarice meet up with ... that's right Renee ... to do some investigating. Midnight is brought back to the apartment she was found in, the sigil masking her from Leviathan still on the floor. Maybe Clarice and whatever magic she has can help Lois.

This ends up being an interesting turn ... if not a bit perplexing. Midnight was hiding from Leviathan, not Kiss of Death. Lois has connections to much more powerful magic-users than whatever meager skills Midnight might have. If you can call on Batman and he drops what he is doing, surely she can call on Zatanna? Or Madame Xanadu? Or even John Constantine?

And for a book called Lois Lane, almost all the action is done by Renee. Couldn't Lois be in this last scene instead?

We are heading into the home stretch here. Can Rucka bring it all together in a satisfying way?

Overall grade: B


Anonymous said...

I think Renee, somehow, got permission from the hotel management in Chicago to carve up the floor of one room of the Presidential suite, and she carved a sigil there. I guess Renee knows how to carve a sigil that Jessica can use to track Kiss of Death?

The first sigil - to hide from Leviathan? - was in Jessica's flat in the UK.

Doubt any of this can be tied up in a satisfactory way by #12, and at this point wonder if Rucka could explain his story even to himself. I definitely don't know what the series is about. But it's gone on for so long that maybe we are just supposed to forget where it started.

It sure looked good, though, and I give great credit to the color scheme Paul Mounts developed for the book. He's long gone from the title, though, and now his replacement, Gabe Eltaeb, has been swapped out for Andy Troy.


Martin Gray said...

I can't see Rucka giving us more background on Jessica Midnight, he seems to always assume we've all followed all his DC work for the last couple of decades.

And yeah, this is still a stealth Question book - I've pretty much lost interest. I'd honestly not be surprised were this series to stop rather than conclude, with a blurb telling us to follow Renee across the DCU for more clues to... whatever.

Good spot on the Princess Bride ref, it was over my head. One day I shall see that film.
This series is such a disappointment.

Martin Gray said...

TN wrote: 'Doubt any of this can be tied up in a satisfactory way by #12, and at this point wonder if Rucka could explain his story even to himself.'

I agree, this reads like he's making it up as he goes, following the character beats he finds interesting and, sadly, they barely include Lois.

Anonymous said...

You didn't highlight my favorite bit in this issue: when Batman returns with Lois's info, and growls at Renee, "Tell her ... she's already got someone to run her errands."

Mind you, he only says this *after* he's already leapt to her command. When Lois Lane says jump, even the almighty Batgod is like, "How high?"

Anj said...

Ahhh ... thanks for the comment about the sigil now being in Chicago.

Hopefully this tightens up and ends well!